SPOKANE, Wash. — Aside from why Spokane was chosen to monitor and care for the patients with COVID-19, more commonly known as coronavirus, many want to know who is responsible for paying for their stay at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.
Four patients are receiving treatment in the Special Pathogens Unit at Sacred Heart. Not much is known about the patients, such as their gender, age or where they are from. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says they were passengers on the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.
While the hospital learned the patient would come to Spokane just last week, preparations for their arrival began years ago in the wake of the Ebola virus. In 2014, Sacred Heart received a $1.6 million dollar grant from the Department of Health and Human Services, which paid for construction and equipment for the facility. Sacred Heart said funding has been renewed for the facility for 2020 to pay for the facility and education.
KREM asked the hospital how much it will cost to treat these four patients specifically and who will pay for their care.
"As with any hospital stay, an individual’s private insurance is billed and the patient may be subject to deductibles and copays, as established by their insurer. For these unique patients, various state and federal agencies are considering additional funding options, if necessary," a spokesperson for Sacred Heart told KREM on Thursday.
To get context, we looked at how much the Ebola virus cost the federal government during and after that outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it cost the U.S. government more than $2.3 billion dollars.
There was nearly 29,000 reported Ebola cases worldwide. Right now, there are more than 80,000 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide. Obviously these are two very different diseases, but it could give insight about how much this could cost if coronavirus virus keeps spreading.
We also reached out to the Spokane Regional Health District and the City of Spokane. A spokesperson for the city said police helped with security and the transportation of the patients from the airport to the hospital, but costs were minimal and "no hard costs" have occurred to date.
The hospital said the Department of Health and Human Services requested these patients go to Spokane. KREM reached out to DHHS to see if the federal government will pay for the treatment of the patients but has not heard back.
KREM is also still waiting for more specific answers from Providence about how much the care costs each day.